Without a doubt, carat weight and size are the first things that come to mind when you hear people talk about diamonds. What most people fail to understand is that carat weight isn’t an accurate portrayal of the diamond’s size. Just because a diamond is heavier (higher carat weight) does not necessarily mean that it will look bigger.
This is because the physical dimensions of the diamond are affected by how it is proportioned. For example, a shallow stone (depth ~ 60%) will appear larger than another stone that is cut deeply (higher depth ~ 63%). Also, having a thick girdle thickness can also result in a smaller face-up view since weight is hidden in the body of the diamond.
Take note that carat weight and cut should be considered hand-in-hand as mentioned in the previous article. As a rule of the thumb, a diamond should not look too big or too small for its carat weight. Otherwise, it is a telltale sign of a poor cut and the brilliance of the stone will suffer.
Just the right diamond size for the hand…
One carat is composed of 100 points and is the equivalent of 200 milligrams. If you haven’t, you can download a carat size chart here. Larger sized rough diamonds are rarer in nature and that’s the reason why they are pricier. This is why you will observe price jumps at half and full carat points.
When buying diamonds, you will be forced to play a zero-sum game with the 4Cs – Cut, Carat, Color and Clarity. With a fixed budget, there’s no way you can improve one attribute without sacrificing another aspect of the diamond. Now, I know that the priority for most people is to get the largest looking diamond possible. My recommendation is that you should never sacrifice cut for size.
Here are some methods to help you get a bigger diamond without compromising cut. Instead of selecting a diamond with high clarity grades, going lower to clarity ratings like SI1-SI2 can enable you to buy a bigger diamond. Likewise, when it comes to choosing color, a less expensive G colored diamond can look almost identical to a D colored diamond in the face up view.
Besides the 4Cs, the use of settings can enhance the look of a diamond through optical illusions. For example, the size of the main diamond will appear bigger in a delicate ring setting with thin shanks. Likewise, the use of a halo to surround the center stone can create a grandiose appearance in the ring.
When viewing this ring design at a distance of 2ft, you’ll get the perspective of a huge solitaire diamond…
There’s a saying from the ladies that a bigger diamond is a better diamond. Well, I disagree because I don’t think everyone would look great wearing an excessively large diamond on their hand.
Vice versa, a small diamond would look disproportionate if the recipient has thick fingers. When choosing a suitable carat size, it would definitely help if are able to visualize how the ring would look like on your recipient’s finger.
Does bigger (left) always mean it’s better? Personally, I don’t think so due to size overkill.
I often get asked questions like: “What’s the best size diamond for size 7 fingers?”, “Is 1 carat too small for a big hand?”, “What does a 1.5 carat diamond look like on a hand?” and other questions related to visualizing diamond rings when they are worn.
The truth of the matter is that there aren’t any hard or fast answers as everybody’s personal preference would be different. What may seem too small or big to you may be the ideal size for someone else. Below, you can view a comparison of diamond rings with different carat sizes that are worn on a size 7 finger.
0.5 ct diamond ring.
0.75 ct diamond ring.
1ct diamond ring.
1.5ct diamond ring.
The most common finger sizes are between US 4 – US 7. In my opinion, diamonds ranging between 0.5ct – 1.5ct would look perfectly fine on these finger sizes. Personally, I think diamonds below 0.30ct would look small and I would recommend using a halo setting to spruce up the appearance of the engagement ring.
When it comes to large carat size diamonds above 1.5ct, I would recommend solitaire settings to prevent an overbearing appearance of the diamond when it is worn on the finger. With all that said, I need to emphasize that these are just my preferences and it shouldn’t dictate what you should or should not buy.
Anyway, here are a few more diamond rings that I purchased recently to help you see how big they look like in real life relative to different hand sizes.
A 0.6ct pave diamond ring on a size 4.5 finger.
1 carat halo diamond ring on my wife’s hand.
For people on a budget, a good tactic to get the biggest bang for your buck is to buy shy. Prices jump at every tenth decimal mark 0.40, 0.50, 0.60, 0.70 and etc. and more significantly at the quarter marks like 0.50, 0.75, 1.00 and etc.
The idea of “buying shy” is to buy close to these carat weights in order to stay within the lower price bracket. Ultimately, you will still end up with a diamond that looks physically the same while avoiding the extra premium.
Here’s an illustration of what I mean.
Buying slightly below the ‘magic’ numbers can result in some substantial savings.
If you take a look at the examples above, the diamonds have similar cut, clarity and color grades (and no fluorescence). Yet, each stone differs greatly in their value. Obviously, you can notice that there is a stark difference in pricing when a diamond hits the magical 1 carat weight.
In real life, a well cut 0.90 carat stone measures up at around 6.20mm by 6.20mm and a well cut 1.00 carat diamond measures up at around 6.50mm by 6.50mm. At a small difference of only 0.30mm, this difference is hardly distinguishable without a side by side comparison. This means that you get a diamond that faces up similarly to a full carat stone and avoid paying the extra 30% difference in prices.
Coming up on the next page, we show you why clarity is an attribute that is often misunderstood by consumers and how to avoid the common pitfalls associated with diamond clarity…